Speak Up During Your Internship

Your professors, advisors, parents and older siblings may have briefed you on what it’s like to be an intern. You need to walk in with low expectations for getting noticed or taking on any responsibility, but you have to dress like a CEO and mind your manners as if you were waiting in line for a big promotion. But don’t let all the hype scare you. While you might be asked to make a coffee run or prep a conference room for a catered lunch meeting sometimes, your main "job" at your internship is to learn and observe. You have a wonderful chance to eavesdrop on the industry and find out which aspects you like about it, which turn you off, and how you fit into the mix. You’ll learn keywords to add to your resume, discover which positions you should interview for when you’re ready for full-time employment, and can ask as many stupid questions as you want. In fact, speaking up during your internship is just as important as showing up on time, and learning everyone’s coffee orders.

To get over your fear of talking to your boss — or anyone in the office — force yourself to ask a few questions on your first day. Take notes and write things down, like the instructions for complicated phone systems or where certain paperwork should be filed. You don’t want to have those kinds of questions over and over again — you’ll look like you’re not paying attention and can’t handle any kind of responsibility. Plus, it’s annoying. You should, however, ask questions when your boss or supervisor has a few minutes to explain to you why the office runs the way it does. Demonstrating your curiosity proves you’re actually interested in the job and the industry, and it also shows that you’re taking the initiative to really understand your job and your purpose in the office. Just make sure that you’re not disrupting anyone during important phone calls or meetings, and don’t ask questions just to hear yourself talk. You don’t want to fade into the background or finish an internship without learning anything, but you don’t want to be more of a hassle than a help.

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